Attic with a View

My grandmother’s attic was an extension of the second floor of her house. Beneath its deep eaves resided a treasure trove for young grandchildren: Among the usual cast-offs of 50 years of habitation were trunks full of old-fashioned clothes for “dress-ups” and a dresser whose drawers held a wealth of mysterious and intriguing odds and ends. It was illuminated by a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling, but in the daytime a small diamond-shaped pane of dusty glass in the attic’s single gable would have admitted a bit of daylight.

I don’t know that it ever occurred to us to look out this window. If we had, the view would have been little different from what we could have gotten from the bedroom on that side of the house: a broad expanse of lawn, thickly hedged on two sides, a small fenced garden, several large trees suitable for climbing, and an assortment of shrubbery and lawn furniture. No one would have entered the attic for the view alone.

The situation is quite different in a house being built down the street. The house is replacing the one I wrote about in “Up in Smoke.” As can be seen from the photos accompanying that post, the previous dwelling was centered on the lot and looked out to the street between banks of shrubbery. The street is called Bayview, and many of the houses on it do overlook the bay. At this end of the street, the view is obscured by trees on the bluff. Furthermore, the new house is being built on just the south half of the lot, probably with a view to a future subdivision that will allow the northern portion to be sold as a separate parcel. This places the house squarely behind a bank of tall shrubs.

Perhaps the shrubbery will ultimately be pruned down or removed entirely. Meanwhile, as shown in the photo below, the new house is much more elevated than the sprawling ranch-style home it replaces.

It is a very large house, with four bedrooms on the first floor, so I was unsure that it would have a second floor at all, but the addition of a staircase answered that question. My husband reported, however, that a neighbor had told him that the builder-owners did not intend to use the second floor.

As it has developed, the second floor is a fully floored walkup attic that is clearly meant to be left unfinished. But the builders are not entirely insane: they have included a shed dormer at the front that permits an actual glimpse of the bay from its three large windows.

View from the front porch:

Slightly better view from the attic:

Although it is difficult to make out in this small photo, the waterline can clearly be seen from the attic. One can imagine the owners coming up here to keep an eye on weather approaching from the west. Walls on both sides of the dormer create a cozy alcove, and it not too hard to imagine the owner placing a chair here beside a telescope on a stand as a retired ship captain might do in his house beside the sea.

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